2022-09-24

Outside

I always end up reading Outside magazine on airplanes. I compulsively buy it in airports. Is it just because airport newsstands have a terrible selection, forcing me to choose between Maxim and Today’s Bride before I finally spy Outside hiding behind a pillar? Maybe.

There I am jammed tightly in a tin can with a few hundred other people, breathing recirculated air, trying to keep the seat from doing permanent damage to my tailbone, and I choose to read about Everest base camp, $9500 custom bike frames, the best rivers for whitewater, and how to remove a tick from one’s boy parts*? It’s a peculiar form of masochism, like reading Gourmet while sitting in a leaky tent in the middle of a rainstorm, eating cold corn straight from the can. One might think it would work as an escape fantasy but it doesn’t — it just serves to magnify the unpleasantness of one’s current situation.

Outside is a frustrating magazine, big on swagger and the marketing of absurdly expensive gear that nobody really needs. It’s also big on large, shiny photos of hot blond boys (very few women, despite an obvious hetero-male target audience) flinging themselves and the aforementioned gear through various bits of wilderness. But once in every few issues there’s some brilliant long piece that often later gets turned into a book. So I suppose that’s my story: I Buy It For the Articles.

The articles are mostly about people vanishing, perishing, or bashing themselves up in novel ways, such as travelling economy class on Air Canada.

…Yeah, that’s it: air travel as wilderness adventure, the kind where comfort is a distant afterthought, the food is strange, and the natives are restless. I sense an article pitch in the making.


* the answer involves tweezers, as one might expect. Also bourbon. Reason #4003 to have internal genitalia.